ATLANTA - We are long past picking the hometown bank. Our hometown now has many options, not to mention that you can choose now an online-only bank. So how do you narrow down what's best for you? It just takes a little elbow grease. But not much.
A bank today does a whole lot of things. Look at this list: checking, savings, money market accounts, CDs, credit cards, loans and more. So where do you start?
There are interest rates for credit cards, loans and CDs. And then what you might earn on savings accounts. Which is most important to you? Credit unions and online banks tend to have the best fees and rates, but if you need a lot of brick and mortar options then these aren't for you.
BRANCHES AND ATMs
Here are two questions you need to ask yourself: Do I need to talk to someone face-to-face? If you're a big traveler, decide if you need to draw cash wherever you are at a minute's notice. National banks have more branches, generally speaking.
The average overdraft fee is more than $33. And as we've all experienced at least once in our lives, that can have a domino effect if things aren't caught quickly.
You might say, ''Oh, I'll just get overdraft protection. Well, think about that. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau reports that those who opt-in pay in the end seven times more than those who don't get overdraft protection. It's not free. You get sloppy because you're covered and you ignore that it's costing you money.
Here are two more economical options to consider. One: Link one account to another in that same bank so that if you dip into the negative, they'll slide money over to cover it. There could be a fee but not a $33 fee. Two: Get a free, low-balance alert. That way you can curb your spending before an overdraft is a problem.
Get online and shop around. If you are a low-frills person, go into business with an online-only bank. That is generally a real cost-saver, but it's not for everybody.